Viti Levu is the heart of the Republic of Fiji, also frequently called ‘the mainland.’ Not only is it the largest island of the Fijian archipelago, but also the site of the nation's capital, Suva, and home to 70% of Fiji's population (about 600,000 people), who mainly live in the island's three biggest cities, Suva, Lautoka and Nadi.
Many first-time travelers to Fiji stay right here on Viti Levu, where many resorts are located. While the island's beaches, with the exception of Natadola, may not be as idyllic and pristine as the ones ‘offshore’ on the neighbor islands, Viti Levu has other charms that can be found when venturing away from the shoreline.
The island's interior lures with its dramatic highlands. Hike through national parks and lush river valleys, have a dip in a waterfall, visit traditional villages and explore the Viti Levu that lies beyond the visitor's brochures. For those who want to be in the center of the action, Suva has many cultural attractions, restaurants and the best nightlife in Fiji.
Fiji's capital is also the hub for those looking for cultural attractions and all the amenities of urban life. The city boasts Fiji's best restaurants, stores, movie theaters, night clubs, museums and monuments. Suva is also home to the campus of the region's main university, embassies, government ministries, libraries, hospitals and large trading companies. From here all other corners of the country can be reached, either via plane, boat or bus.
Viti Levu's Coral Coast is the region in the island's south. It's mainly a resort area, where one can find a series of large hotels and resorts that offer guests a variety of tours and sports activities. The best beach on Viti Levu, Natadola Beach, is located here as well. It’s a nice and long white-sand beach and a popular spot among picnickers.
Pacific Harbour is the southeastern area of the island, from Deuba to Suva. It is wetter and greener than the area further to the southwest. The area offers many things to do, such as scuba diving in the Beqa Lagoon to the south and boat trips up the river into the island's interior (river trips start at Navua).
Lautoka is Fiji's second largest city, located in northern Viti Levu. It's more of an industrial center (sugar and timber) rather than a resort town. However, there are still good facilities here and it's a good place to avoid the touristy areas.
Nadi, located on the island's west coast, is Fiji's third largest town. It’s also the location of Fiji's main international airport, which makes Nadi the country's main gateway city. One of the liveliest places in Nadi is the Nadi Market, where visitors can mingle with local folks, discover interesting and cheap places to eat, buy homemade souvenirs and try the popular yaqona (kava) beverage.
Nadi is also the hub to explore the surrounding area and islands to the west. A large variety of sightseeing tours, day cruises and activities are offered around Nadi, such as bus tours to nearby mountains, valleys, gardens and beaches, or to the offshore Mamanuca and Yasawa islands. There aren't many sandy beaches in the Nadi area and the west coast of Viti Levu. This area is also much drier than the lush east coast, which has many rainforests.
Koroyanitu National Heritage Park
Located about 10 km (6 miles) southeast of Lautoka, Koroyanitu National Heritage Park is made up of Viti Levu's highlands. It’s the ideal place for nature lovers and hikers. There are six villages in the park that are part of an ecotourism project. Villagers help maintain the landscape and tracks. Here one can do bird-watching and hike through grasslands and forests and to waterfalls and archaeological sites.
Why visit Viti Levu?
Viti Levu is a good island to visit for first-time visitors to Fiji. It's the country's largest and most developed island, home to many large hotels and resorts and all the amenities one can think of. The island offers both city life and rural areas as well, plus it's the hub from where planes and boats leave to the other islands.
Viti Levu facts
Area: 10,388 km² (4,011 sq mi)
Length: 146 km (91 mi)
Width: 106 km (66 mi)
Population: about 600,000
Population density: 55.83/km² (144.6 /sq mi)
Highest mountain: Mount Tomanivi - 1,324 m (4,344 ft)
Largest city: Suva - population 88,271 (2009)